South Asian Art Platform KALĀ Announces Inaugural Exhibition
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Sri Lankan photographer Lionel Wendt serves as the catalyst for the show, which opens in Colombo in January 2024.
Lionel Wendt, Adventures in Space (ca. 1940). Photomontage, 32 x 45 cm. Courtesy Lionel Wendt Trust.
New art platform KALĀ has announced details of its inaugural exhibition, Pivot. Glide. Echo., and additional programming developed in association with the Lionel Wendt Art Centre.
Curated by KALĀ Assistant Curator Mariyam Begum under the guidance of KALĀ Curatorial Advisor Sandhini Poddar, Adjunct Curator at Large of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the exhibition brings together works by 19 Sri Lankan artists spanning eight decades.
The curators took the practice of Sri Lankan photographer Lionel Wendt (1900–1944) as a point of departure for the exhibition, which delves into the relationship between the image-making process and technology.
'Lionel Wendt is pivotal to Sri Lankan and South Asian art history,' Begum explained. 'Although his career as a visual artist was brief—from the 1930s to 1944—in the short span that he was active, he had a very versatile and prolific practice that engaged with very diverse themes, one that was not defined or confined by the exploration of a very specific idea.'
Begum said Wendt's 'futuristic' practice allowed for meaningful dialogues with other artists' works.
'Rupaneethan Pakkiyarajah's practice for instance responds to Lionel Wendt's exploration of the landscape,' she offered. 'He, however, brings a perspective where the body amalgamates with the landscape, as he explores the experiences of trauma and pain in the context of Sri Lanka's Civil War.'
Among the other artists showing in Pivot. Glide. Echo. are Saskia Pintelon, Anoli Perera, Kavan Balasuriya, and Muvindu Binoy. The exhibition opens at the Lionel Wendt Art Centre in Colombo on 28 January.
In addition to the exhibition, KALĀ will host a curated program of talks, workshops and events at the centre, additional venues, and online from 29 January to 25 February, 2024.
Art South Asia Project (ASAP) is a UK-based arts education and development non-profit organisation. It supports initiatives aimed at widening and deepening engagement with modern and contemporary visual arts from South Asia and its diaspora. For this edition, KALĀ has partnered with ASAP to develop the talks and workshop series, KALĀ x ASAP. This collaboration will involve working with Sri Lankan and international art professionals to discuss the modern and contemporary Sri Lankan art and the arts ecosystem of South Asia.
Speakers featured in the KALĀ x ASAP series include Diana Campbell, Chief Curator of the Dhaka Art Summit; Nishad Avari, Head of Sale for Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art at Christie's; Shayari de Silva and Chief Curator of the Geoffrey Bawa Trust.
Offsite events organised by KALĀ will feature visits to private collections of prominent collectors in Sri Lanka and partner events with Barefoot Gallery, Sapumal Foundation, Gini Outdoor Kitchen, Paradise Road Tintagel Colombo, The University of Visual and Performing Arts, and Saskia Fernando Gallery.
KALĀ takes its name from the Sanskrit word meaning performing art or skilled craft. It is an educational and artistic platform inspired by the art and culture of Sri Lanka.
KALĀ was founded by Sri Lankan gallerist Saskia Fernando with funding from Sri Lankan corporations and industry reps from the region. They already have plans in place for their first three annual exhibitions.
KALĀ 2024 is supported by Cinnamon Life, Paradise Road, and Chatham Luxury. —[O]